Timeline of Healthcare Reform in the USA

Healthcare reform has made a long journey since Roosevelt’s failed attempt to provide healthcare for all citizens back in 1912. In this post, we recap the major milestones of healthcare reform in the USA.

Timeline of Healthcare Reform in the USA

healthcare reform timeline


Theodore Roosevelt campaigned for health care for all but failed to get elected (this is after his presidency ended).


Roosevelt developed the social security law and wanted to include medical coverage in that. It was initially met with resistance but after World War Two, he made another attempt at healthcare reform, but he passed away before he could change it.


Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s successor, made healthcare reform his major initiative. He didn’t have enough support to pass any legislation. He wanted to create a health system (which included providers). However, he did sow the seed for insurance for elderly americans which was later passed as Medicare.

healthcare reform

President Lyndon Johnson created the Medicare and Medicaid Program


Lyndon Johnson created the Medicare and Medicaid program. This was the most significant health reform in U.S. history and has continued to be until the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010.


Richard Nixon proposed health coverage expansion through private insurance, employers, individuals. However, this proposal and his presidency ended with the Watergate scandal.


Bill Clinton made a major effort tried to overhaul the healthcare system. While nothing happened and his efforts ended in 1994, this sparked a national conversation about healthcare in America. It did teach important lessons, which would be crucial to the leaders in charge of creating the Affordable Care Act.

Lessons learned that helped the passaged of the Affordable Care Act

  1. Presidential leadership is important. It was not possible to pass healthcare legislation without support from the President and the White House.
  2. A newly elected President must act quickly before political capital dissolves. The earlier in term the better.
  3. Leave the details to Congress. The President should focus on the bigger picture. He should edcuate the nation on why it matters.
  4. It has to be a bipartisan effort. The legislation could not have passed with support from just one party.
  5. The House and Congress must constantly communicate with the public.
  6. Don’t threaten existing insurance coverage (Clinton wanted to change it for everyone, Obama wanted to expand to those who didn’t have it).

Timeline of Healthcare Reform

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